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Trade woes ease but Singapore shares still dip 0.2% on Wednesday

INVESTORS in Asia were more optimistic on Wednesday from a positive showing by Wall Street and remarks made by the US and China that helped ease trade worries.

However, the effect was somewhat negated in the local market, due to mixed earnings from index firms.

Even though the Straits Times Index (STI) failed to post gains, losses were less than in recent days with the benchmark index finishing at 3,218.77, down 4.94 points or 0.15 per cent on Wednesday.

"Couple of mixed earnings from the Singapore blue-chips had weighed on the broader market and the disappointment from Chinese data released this morning did little to help. A sense of caution in the local market remains, which has seen most sectors continuing to trade lower," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said of Wednesday's session.

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Trading volume clocked in at 1.05 billion securities or 83 per cent of the daily average in the first four months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover came to S$1.08 billion, 5 per cent more than the January-to-April daily average. 

Across the market, advancers outpaced decliners 220 to 172.

Among the big movers on the day was Memtech International. Its shares surged after the Chuang family, which controls the electronics components manufacturer, made a voluntary conditional offer of S$1.35 for each share in a bid to delist the company. Memtech closed at S$1.33, adding 24 cents or 22.2 per cent, on heavier-than-usual trading with 4.1 million shares changing hands.

"Given that the offer for each share is at a premium over the average of Memtech's recent stock price, it presents a good exit for most shareholders, especially since the counter is not the most liquid," Azure Capital's founder and chief executive officer Terence Wong said.

The benchmark index had 16 of the STI's 30 components trading in the red.

Among them was Singtel, which dropped two Singapore cents or 0.6 per cent to close at S$3.13 on 18.6 million shares traded. The telco reported before market open that fourth-quarter profit gained 0.4 per cent to S$773 million, but for the full year, bottom line was down 43 per cent.

City Developments Limited shares fell S$0.14 or 1.6 per cent to S$8.54. The real estate player posted a first-quarter net profit of S$199.6 million and revealed plans to invest 5.5 billion yuan (S$1.1 billion) in China property developer Sincere Property Group before market open.

The local banks were mixed, with DBS Group Holdings finishing S$0.19 or 0.7 per cent up at S$26.29. OCBC Bank was flat at S$11.19 while United Overseas Bank dipped S$0.03 or 0.1 per cent to close at S$25.10.